Comprendre les enjeux de l'agriculture

Food waste is an environmental, economic, and social scourge. One third of the food produced and intended for human consumption, approximately 1.3 billion tons, is wasted or lost each year globally, accounting for 31% of the calories produced for human consumption. In addition to a massive loss of water, land, energy, labor, and capital, waste is responsible for a significant portion of greenhouse gas emissions. Food waste is a phenomenon that transcends national borders and affects both developed and developing states.


Food waste occurs when consumable food is discarded or lost without valid reason. It happens at all stages of the food supply chain, from production to final consumption. This includes fruits and vegetables with aesthetic defects, expired products, leftovers from unconsumed meals, food items discarded by supermarkets due to strict quality criteria, or foodstuffs rotting due to lack of storage capacity. Here are four main causes :


1. Agricultural surpluses without outlets;
2. Poor management of a very complex and demanding agricultural supply chain;
3. Often overly conservative expiration dates;
4. Consumer behavior: impulsive purchases, storage defects, excessive meals, undue requirements…


Food Waste Statistics

In Africa, in particular, food losses are exacerbated by a number of specific challenges involving the agricultural value chain. Indeed, inefficient harvesting techniques, weak capacities of proper storage, and inadequate transport infrastructure are among the main factors of food waste. Moreover, extreme weather conditions, such as droughts and floods, only make matters worse by affecting food availability and increasing the prevalence of hunger and malnutrition.


Here are some estimates of food waste by regions and countries :

1. United States: They are the world champions of food waste. About 40% of the food produced is wasted, which is 219 kg of food thrown away per person each year.
2. China: The world’s most populous country, China comes right after the United States. About 35% of the food produced there is wasted.
3. Japan: The Japanese archipelago is a good student in the fight against waste. Despite this, it still wastes 30% of the food it produces.
4. France: The hexagon is taking measures against food waste but has not yet managed to drop below the 30% mark.


Global Perspective and Innovative Solutions

Internationally, it is crucial to promote the following perspectives and innovative solutions to combat food waste. This designation includes, in particular :

Advanced technologies, which use tools such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things to optimize the food production and distribution chain.
The implementation of appropriate preservation techniques is also crucial. Proper food storage, use of the cold chain, and application of natural preservation methods such as canning or dehydration help to extend the shelf life of foodstuffs.
Awareness campaigns to encourage consumers to purchase more responsibly and to better manage their food reserves at home.
Legislation and policies: Government policies should organize the redistribution of unsold food to food banks and other charitable organizations.
International cooperation: It should encourage the exchange of best practices and technologies between countries for better management of food resources.


Ultimately, food waste is a complex issue that requires a coordinated approach on the global stage. While diverse solutions are necessary in various regions to address such a challenge, the consensus goal is clear: to minimize the loss of precious resources and improve food security for all citizens.


For more information, refer to the following report : Think Eat Save Tracking Progress to Halve Global Food Waste.